Melbourne can be pretty cold on winter evenings.
It is expected, after all. We are the southernmost city in the world (with a population above 1 million).
Walking out from Southern Cross Station with my granddad, my teeth couldn’t help but chatter. After purchasing the AFL Record (Marcus Bontempelli, who’s name is unpronounceable to my grandfather, was on the cover, we went to our seats (I sat next to a fellow Bulldogs fan, him a fellow Magpie) and waited for the game to start.
This was the third Dogs-Pies game of football I’d been to this year (a preseason thriller and another even contest), and the ledger was split. The Bulldogs needed to get a win to guarantee a finals place and keep alive top four hopes. Collingwood had nothing to play for (bar Buckley’s coaching career).
The first quarter was a dour affair. Collingwood reached an early lead, and held on for ten minutes. Two late goals from the Bulldogs gave them a five point lead.
The second quarter, however, was pulsating, energetic end-to-end stuff. The Bulldogs kicked two goals, but Collingwood fought back to level the scores. A Liam Picken behind late in the quarter gave the Dogs a one point lead heading into the main break.
Now, the all important question is: what did I have to eat at half time? I had chips with an American-style chilli dog. My mood was tempered by the fact it had mustard on it, which I’ve never been a fan off, and the hot dog was cold, but it actually turned out to be quite good. It was rather spicy though, so I made up for it with drinks of Fanta.
Collingwood slammed on the accelerator in the third quarter, kicking the first three goals and keeping the Bulldogs scoreless for seventeen minutes, as well as Jeremy Howe taking a screamer. It could have been even better for them had Darcy Moore not stuffed up a gimme from 20 metres out early on. (As I said earlier, he is Travis Cloke, Mk II).
In retaliation, the Bulldogs went full throttle, kicking four goals in the next six minutes. Two of them were off the boot of the Timorese Titan, Lin Jong. Seeing him sink two crucial goals is sweet enough, but when it’s against a team he’d been visiting earlier in the season, that made it even better.
Moore got his third for the game to hold the scores level at three-quarter time. Me and my granddad tried to find an icecream, but there weren’t any places we found to get one. (Fix that please, Etihad Stadium).
The last quarter was all you’d expect in a match as tight as this. Dickson and Bontempelli goal for the Bulldogs. Greenwood and Oxley for Collingwood. A behind each way. A goal to Nathan Hrovat, a goal to Brayden Maynard.
For the next nine minutes, the Bulldogs did anything they could to get the winning goal. It was all to no avail, as they scored three behinds. Any hopes of a draw (the first one I would have ever seen) were crushed.
Collingwood ran forward with a minute to go, and resolutely attacked. At one point, they kicked it to a contest within twenty metres of their goal, but the Bulldogs held steady and frantically kicked it away. There was a late deliberate out of bounds free kick, but it was from too far out. Their only hope was to bomb it forward and hope there was a mark.
The ball is in the contest…
It hits the ground…
Absolute jubilation from Bulldogs fans. For the first time in 70 years, we had a four-game winning streak over Collingwood, but no one cared.
We’re now in the box seat for a home elimination final. We’re on track to do one better than we did last time, but for now we can just enjoy the ride, and games like this.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 7.6 11.7 14.11 (95)
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 7.5 11.7 14.8 (92)
Western Bulldogs: Jong 2, Dickson 2, Bontempelli 2, Hrovat 2, Cordy 2, Dunkley, Stringer, Smith, Hunter,
Collingwood: Moore 3, Sidebottom 2, De Goey 2, Oxley 2, Treloar, White, Phillips, Greenwood, Maynard
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Collingwood: Adams (corked calf), Moore (cut eye)
Umpires: Margetts, Kamolins, Meredith
Official crowd: 35,010 at Etihad Stadium
Nick Fredriksson’s 3-2-1 votes:
- 3 votes: Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
- 2 votes: Adam Treloar (Collingwood)
- 1 vote: Josh Dunkley (Western Bulldogs)
Featured image by Michael Willson/AFL Media